Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
vowed to not allow any Palestinian
refugees into Israel

Addressing constituents at a Likud party convention in Jerusalem Sunday Sharon ruled out a return of refugees from 1948 and their offspring.

"I will never let any Palestinian refugees enter Israel – never. I clarified in the past and repeated in Aqaba that the solution for the Palestinian refugees will not be found within Israeli territory.”

Sharon and his government conditionally endorsed the international "roadmap" for peace ahead of his attendance at last Wednesday's Jordan peace summit with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and US President George W Bush.

The roadmap paves the way for the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

The Palestinian leadership accepted the "roadmap", which defers the problem of refugees but says there must be a just and realisable solution, without any conditons.

Sharon also promised "to bring peace and security" to the people of Israel.

His comments came amid fierce barracking from members of his right-wing party.

"I mean to keep my promise to the votes - I will bring security and I will bring peace," he told Likud members.

Bodyguards shielded Sharon from the hecklers as he told the convention that only those who made difficult concessions could make peace.

"He who does not understand the pain of concession cannot make true peace because only he who feels the pain will do everything to protect the peace bought at such a painful price," he said. "That is the truth."

Sharon told his party he believed the Middle East peace "roadmap", much-hated in sections of Likud, could improve both Israel's security and its economy.

"We have been forced to make a series of hard and complex decisions in a short period of time," he told the crowd, many of whom were waving anti-roadmap banners saying "map of illusions".

About 3,000 Likud members are expected to attend the party's first convention since its 28 January general election win.

At a Likud convention in May 2002, party members voted against the creation of a Palestinian state.